If there is a topic that highlights the importance of not making mistakes in the drafting of your will or trust, it’s that of correcting mistakes in wills and trusts. As a rule, courts do not give much scope for the correction of errors. There are a narrow set of circumstances in which courts are willing to entertain the notion of correcting mistakes and it is these circumstances that we will review. One thing you must take note of is that each court treats mistakes in its own way and that this treatment depends a lot on the jurisdiction.
Mistake in the Inducement
A mistake in the inducement occurs when the person writing a will, known as the testator, misunderstands a pertinent law or fact, resulting in them making a bequest that they would otherwise not have made.
In several states, this is not enough for the courts to modify or invalidate a well, whereas in others, correction based on a mistake of inducement is permitted in a few specific instances, such as when the will cites this mistake and the alternative path the testator would have taken had they not misunderstood a law or fact.
For instance, if the testator believes and states that his late wife left most of her estate to one of their children and so, he is leaving most of his estate to the other child, and yet, this fact is incorrect, some courts would allow the will to be changed, though some other courts would insist that the will be carried out as is, regardless of the evident mistake.
Special State Rules on Mistakes
As has been hinted, it is incredibly important to understand the state’s statutes governing wills or laws. For instance, there are states, such as Georgia, where provisions are made to take care of a child who has been mistakenly left out of a will because the testator believes that the child is already dead. Another example of a statutory exception exists in those states where a will was authored in the mistaken belief regarding the conduct or existence of an heir. In such a scenario, those states are willing to give that heir an intestate portion of the deceased’s property.
Mistakes Regarding the Legal Impact of a Will or Trust
The harsh reality is that even if your lawyer gives you bad advice, courts generally will not modify a will or set it aside if you made a mistake regarding the legal impact of its provisions.
For instance, if the testator misjudged the tax consequences of a bequest, that will would not be modified or invalidated. This is a demonstration of how important it is to have a good lawyer when drafting a will or legal trust.
Not Comprehending What’s in the Will
So long as a will is signed, courts generally assume that you understood what was in the will or trust document. Even in the event that convincing proof was furnished showing that the testator misunderstood the will, it would not be surprising if the court did not allow the will to be modified or thrown out. Often, when a person signs a will that they do not understand, it is usually because they are under the undue influence of someone else. In such instances, it is important to furnish proof such influence if you are to have a shot at having a will modified or set aside.